Turbulent Times for Intellectual Property

Close up of files in a drawer

Upsides & Challenges during the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted the practice of law across the board, not just for attorneys like me who specialize in patents and trademarks. I am advising my clients to consider pivots in strategy. Let’s take a quick overview of what’s happening right now.

There have been a few upsides

The virtual switch was relatively easy: 

Patent and trademark attorneys are generally accustomed to working remotely and relying on technology to operate their practice. Technology like e-discovery and remote depositions have enabled attorneys to continue to work without much disruption.The same can be said for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO has been ahead of the work-from-home curve. Many years ago, the USPTO implemented proactive policies that allowed patent examiners to work remotely from all areas of the country.

Money & time-saving practices: 

Traditional face-to-face meetings, such as ones for hearings, have been held by video or phone conference. Because of their success, all parties are saving on time and costs related to travel.

Some challenges to address

Changing course with your portfolio: 

Depending on your industry, you may need to reevaluate new filings, put off some decisions, and evaluate upcoming maintenance and annuity fees. The energy industry is one example. Because of the pandemic-related recession, and a decreased demand for oil resulting in a glut, those with patents in this industry would need to consider a different approach to their portfolio management.

On the other hand, those in the medical device and pharma fields may want to take the opposite approach. There may be new filing opportunities to pursue because of COVID-19 related developments. This may also be the time for those in these fields to pursue their first-ever filings.

Keeping up with global changes: 

How IP offices around the world are proceeding at this time is varied and evolving. Each country may be taking different approaches. For example, some offices, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), India, and the United Kingdom, have automatically extended deadlines. Others have abstained from any extensions but permit, under certain circumstances, remedial action for rights lost due to the effects of the coronavirus. 

The economic slowdown and its impact: 

Some companies may be in distress, or others are looking to pivot. The pandemic has opened the doors to these new opportunities, for better or worse. You may be a company in need of a sale or one that would consider the opportunity to acquire IP from third parties. 

A backlog in the courts: 

Court closures have created a backlog of criminal cases. These cases are prioritized over civil cases to comply with the constitutional right to a speedy trial. Accordingly, patent litigation cases have and will continue to have delays.

There is no denying that COVID-19 has greatly affected all areas of our lives, and the intellectual property arena is no different. However, you can rely on me to help you with your IP rights during these turbulent times. Let’s have a conversation.


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